Early detection is the best way to prevent colon, chest and cervical cancer

You know, you work so hard to create the body that fits more closely with your identity. And you want to take care of that body. That’s one way I think about cancer screening — don’t let that work go to waste. Rhys

Did you know that cancer screening rates are low among trans* men, Two Spirit, genderqueer and other gender non-conforming people along the transmasculine spectrum?

We all have a right to quality health care. But it’s true that trans men can face some barriers when it comes to taking care of our health. Still, it’s important to get screened for colon, *chest and cervical cancer. Screening means checking for cancer before you have any symptoms. Screening can stop cancer before it starts or find cancer early, when treatment works best.

So, is cancer screening worth the hassle and discomfort? The answer is yes. Because your health is worth it. Because your body is worth it. Because you have a right to quality, timely healthcare. Because cancer doesn’t discriminate. Because screening saves lives.

Learn more about how to get screened for colon, chest and cervical cancer. Screening saves lives!

Why these cancers?

You may be wondering why we’re focusing on colon, chest and cervical cancer when there are so many other types of cancer to worry about.

In Ontario, we focus on screening for colon, chest and cervical cancer for a few reasons.

First, these three cancers are relatively common, and so it makes sense to screen for them rather than screening for rarer cancers.

Second, we have reliable and proven screening tests to check for each of these cancers at very early stages or even before they start, when treatment is easiest and most effective. We can more easily offer these tests to the populations at risk for these cancers. We don’t (yet) have similar screening tests for other types of cancer.

As well, these cancers can be caught early or even prevented with screening. If caught early, they are very easy to treat. If these cancers aren’t detected until later stages, though, treatment is much longer and more painful — and may not be as successful.

Finally, we know that the screening tests for colon, chest and cervical cancer benefit large groups of people. For example, we know that all adults over the age of 50 should be screened for colon cancer, and that anyone with a cervix who is sexually active should be screened for cervical cancer starting from age 21. But we don’t have the same evidence that population-wide screening would reduce the rates of other types of cancers.

So, that’s why we screen for colon, chest and cervical cancer. If you’re at risk for a different type of cancer, or if you have symptoms that you think may be cancer related, it’s important to get checked out by your doctor and create a personalized cancer screening plan that works for you.

Please read the sections for trans men to learn more about the early detection and screening for colon, chest and cervical cancer. Please share this information with your friends, family and social networks!

*Two notes on terminology:

We recognize that the term “trans men and people on the spectrum” doesn’t cover the full range of transmasculine (that is, on the female to male (FtM) spectrum) and gender non-conforming experiences and identities. For this portion of the website, we will refer to people on the FtM spectrum as “trans men.” We’ve chosen this term because of its simplicity, but we recognize that it has limitations. Please feel free to contact us if you have suggestions or comments on this website, including input on how to be more inclusive.

*A note on terminology: In the trans men sections of this website, we refer to cancer in chest tissue as cancer of the chest, and to the tissue itself as chest tissue. This is because we recognize that many trans men and people on the transmasculine spectrum do not identify as having breasts, feel ambivalent about having breasts and prefer the term “chest” on its own. Although we use this terminology where appropriate, we also recognize the fact that some trans men do have breasts.